Becoming: Sarah Cambio of Flower Lane

I’m so glad that I found Sarah Cambio’s business, Flower Lane! Her work is so high-quality, beautiful, intentional, happy… I’m not about to run out of adjectives describing how much I love what she does. I loved getting to know her a bit better, and I hope you do too!

Sarah Cambio is the founder of Flower Lane; a small shop that handmakes embroidered linen crowns. Inspired by all things whimsical and nostalgic, Flower Lane delivers keepsakes that can be cherished forever. Sarah immigrated from Germany to the US when she was 11 years old. Not knowing how to speak English, she spent that summer learning before jumping into school. She currently lives in Maryland with her husband and three children. 

A light grey linen kids birthday crown with the phrase "May you find a muddy puddle to splash in wherever you go."

Becoming Sarah Cambio of Flower Lane

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

I think I see myself as a hybrid between a designer and maker, but slowly learning how to be a business person. I love making things with my hands but also really enjoy the business side. There is so much to learn and I love that! 

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born in Germany and immigrated to the US when I was 11 years old. I grew up in what many here know as a Waldorf type setting and I think that has always inspired me. When I think of Waldorf I think of whimsy things, traditions, and seeing the beauty of childhood. 

Handmade linen kids birthday crowns in pink, yellow, mint, orange, and blue.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

So many things! I never had my heart set on just one thing and thought it would be so cool to be everything from an FBI Agent, a teacher, or social worker. 

What sparked your interest in making kids birthday crowns? 

I was inspired by crowns made from felt and wanted something similar for our daughter’s 3rd birthday. I taught myself how to sew and added my own twist; using linen, adjustable ties, wooly pom poms, and embroidering the child’s name. 

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

I graduated from High School with a full scholarship, attended college for 2 semesters, dropped out, and a decade later completed my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. I volunteered as an EMT for about 2 years and quit because Flower Lane was taking off–a complete 180 from what I pursued my education in.

A grey linen kids birthday crown with rainbow pom poms and the name "tillie" embroidered on it. It's on a pink background.

What inspired you to start a business?

I’ve always dreamed about having my own business and felt so inspired by those around me who were running theirs successfully. It wasn’t until we got pregnant with our 4th that I decided that this is it! 

A few months prior I taught myself how to sew with a $20 Facebook Marketplace sewing machine. It took me forever to figure out how to sew in a straight line and a circle was basically impossible! I purchased patterns and jumped right in and learned how to sew clothes while teaching myself how to use my machine at the same time.

A handmade rabbit doll on top of pink kid's clothes.
Sarah made this rabbit and these kid’s clothes when she was first learning to sew.

Once I understood patterns, sewed straight lines, and learned about fabric, I began making stroller clips because that’s what I wanted for my baby. A cute little toy that clipped onto the canopy of the stroller. 

During this time we lost our baby. I felt alone and depressed. There was a lot of grieving. I went back to sewing clothes as a way to work through my emotions.

linen clothes in neutral colors against a wooden backdrop 

In September of 2020 I opened my Etsy store with the stroller clips I worked so hard on. They were a complete failure. I took a month long break and almost quit but something was telling me to keep going. 

A waldorf-inspired handsewn doll wearing a pink linen dress. The doll has brown braids, pink cheeks, simple features, and is on a beige background.
One of Sarah’s first projects

This is when I shared my birthday crowns. Something I was holding in my back pocket until that coming January – our daughter’s 3rd birthday. They sold out the same day I posted them! 

I continued sharing, updating, and building a small Instagram community the rest of 2020. This was also the same time my best friend mailed me her embroidery machine and I started customizing crowns with the child’s name. 

Handmade Flower Lane birthday crowns

This business has been such an emotional journey for me and I’m so grateful for all the good that has come from Flower Lane. 

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

I’m really proud of how much my husband and I have learned in such a short period of time. We both come from non business backgrounds and it’s not a walk in the park. We have to be a team and work together to run Flower Lane every day while also juggling a busy family. 

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

If only there were a few more hours in each day! The one thing all of my ideas have in common is that they are inspired by childhood and family traditions. I want to make something that can be used again and again and brings back a feeling of nostalgia. 

Two kids wearing linen birthday crowns and playing. A girl is wearing a pink dress and white crown, and a boy is wearing a blue sweater, yellow shorts, and a grey crown. They're in a light-filled room.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

This question had me a little stumped because I couldn’t think of any artists, specifically. I look up to people in my life not for being an artist but for the person they are. I’m inspired by people who create and live a purposeful life. 

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I love getting lost in a good fiction book, enjoy watching The Walking Dead, and listening to 80’s rock. 

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

I have missed out on  many opportunities and wasted so much time because I never believed in myself. Either I wasn’t qualified or my work wasn’t good enough.  Stop seeking permission from others to do what you feel you are called to do. Be confident in yourself and don’t wait. The right time to start is now!

Two hands tying a bow on the ties at the back of a linen kids birthday crown. There are a few other crowns along the top of the image, and the background is blue.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

It’s so important to surround yourself with things that inspire you. I have a hard time working when there’s chaos. I like for things to be aesthetically pleasing but also functional. Flower Lane has taken over a large portion of our lower level and we had to really think about how to make the most use of our space. 

Sarah Cambio's workspace. There's a big wooden island, open wooden shelves filled with materials, and a fiddle leaf fig. Sarah's daughter is wearing pink and sitting by the shelves at a computer.
Sarah’s daughter sitting in her workspace

What is a typical day like for you? 

My day always starts with a cup of coffee, breakfast for our youngest, and checking emails. This is also when I check on our chickens; Emily, Annie, and Betsy!

Our youngest goes to daycare a couple of times a week and those are very busy work days for me. On the days she is home, she plays in her play area in my office. Lots of breaks get taken on those days. 

Our oldest two are helpful and my husband puts in a lot of hours during his off time. It’s not the most ideal schedule but it actually works for us! 

We have lunch around noon and before we know it it’s time to take our older two kids to their activities. One plays hockey and the other does MMA. We’re busy around here! 

During the summer months, dinners and bedtimes are late. Once our youngest is in bed my husband and I work a little more and then watch a show or two before bed. 

Every day is a little different here! 

two flower lane embroidered birthday crowns on a blue background

What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?

How to sew! It’s such a useful skill to have in your toolbox. Our oldest daughter learned how to sew at the same time I did and I love that. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

We have so many resources these days to get started on a new hobby and skill. Watch YouTube, practice, and learn from others in the field you’re interested in. Stay inspired and surround yourself with what you want to learn.

flower lane crowns in orange, yellow, pink, blue, and light blue on a yellow and pink background.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

Finding a rhythm between family and work. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 12 years and this is new to all of us. Learning to prioritize and understanding that I can’t do it all myself is something I’m working on.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

I’m a big believer in not acquiring debt and knowing your numbers. Focus on one thing at a time and use that profit for growth. 

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

I would love to write a book someday, to be an author! I also have this random idea of owning an ice cream truck. Like a really cool one that serves waffle cones and scoops of the best ice cream. I miss the ice cream shops in Germany and I feel like we need that here! 

Jasper's yellow Flower Lane crown in a field of daisies.

What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

Business wise I have big dreams for Flower Lane and one of those includes moving the business out of our home. We already work with talented individuals in our local community to create these sweet crowns and I would love to see us all together in one space someday. I would also love for my husband to join me full time.

Personally, I dream of finding our forever home. A place where we can gather with our children and grandchildren someday, make memories, and hang stockings from the mantle. It’s such a simple goal but I think that’s ultimately what drives me and keeps me inspired. 

Jasper sits in a field of daisies wearing a yellow Flower Lane crown and a striped yellow shirt.

More Inspiration

Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram @shopflowerlane and look at her website here! You can buy our Lars x Flower Lane crowns on our shop here.

If you want to read about more inspiring creators, business women, and designers, you can look for more of our becoming essays here!

Pour myself a cup of ambition

Ambition

Naturally, I’ve always been ambitious starting from when I was young, though I didn’t always know what I was ambitious for. I was always a really good student, but I think the achievement of excellent grades was more to reach a standard of perfection rather than a specific outcome. Of course I knew, or at least I was taught, that excellent grades meant getting into a great college and lead to a better future and I was all about riding that train. I wanted to make something excellent with my life, whatever that was.

That drive wasn’t necessarily instilled in me by anyone in particular. In fact, my algebra teacher once asked me if my parents were forcing me to get certain grades, no doubt expecting them to be academic tyrants. It might have appeared that way because I would always spend hours trying to figure out equations. On the contrary, my parents were not strict at all and didn’t really push me–they didn’t need to. Math didn’t come easily to me so I worked at it. There was something nice about knowing there was a right answer–I just needed to figure out the best way to get there. It’s probably shocking to anyone who knows me now because I’ve pretty much given up on anything math-related.

In college I remember hearing a lecture about ambition described as a negative thing. This was news to me. I don’t remember too much about the details of that lecture other than feeling that something didn’t sit right. I didn’t buy it. But that’s kind of a motto for my life I suppose–figuring out where I personally sit with what I’m taught and then going for it.

As I mentioned, I didn’t always know what I was ambitious for so just kind of worked hard and acted upon the opportunities that came my way. I realize the immense privilege that comes with this statement–the fact that there ARE opportunities is something I’m grateful for. For example, I specifically joined the Orange County Junior Orchestra in middle school because they had announced that they would be touring France and England the following summer. I had been babysitting and saving my money since I was ten so I had amassed a tiny fortune (for me anyway 😉 and used it to go. We got to perform IN Monet’s Gardens at Giverny and in front of the Eiffel Towel and in places that I’m still shocked about now (I mean, how did they get the permits to do that?!?!). As you might imagine, the trip was absolutely transformative and informs a lot of who I am and how I see the world today.

The Burn Out

Well, as I’ve gotten older and become more exhausted/burned out in my hustling, I’ve started to realize the necessity of being ambitious FOR something. For one thing, I’ve learned that I’m not motivated only by money. If I was I’d definitely be doing something else with my life. Of course I’m motivated to build my business, pay my employees, support my family, and design the house of my dreams, etc., but the main reason I run Lars isn’t for that reason.

What are your motivations?

Additionally, though I’m sure I’d have to do more self reflection on the matter and I’m sure it’s not always the case, I’ve learned that I’m not motivated by the approval of others. I’ve gotten to a point where I feel comfortable owning my own choices and I don’t feel too much pressure to perform for others, whether it’s to make it look like I’m cooler than I am, richer than I am, more beautiful than I am. I’m quite fine with not being the best at all things all the time. Why? Because 1) there’s no such thing as being perfect 2) it’s really boring to be perfect 3) it’s too much upkeep to maintain a certain image that doesn’t really exist, you know?

Mission driven

A few years ago I decided that work is much more fulfilling when it’s attached to a purpose. I know that’s so millennial of me. My mission, our mission, for Lars is to 1) encourage people to work with their hands and 2) to live an artful life. Because when you work with your hands you live a better life and when you do it artfully, it’s intentional.

When I view it through this lens, it’s much easier to not resent work, which is something I have struggle with in the past including as recently as when I was pregnant last year. Anyone else feel super unmotivated and unambitious during pregnancy? Oooo, it’s bad for me!

Reframe ambition

Now that I have an infant and toddler, my ambition continues, but there’s less time and mental capacity. I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll have literally dozens of ideas of how I want to grow Lars and I’m only capable of working one to two hours a day, which is not super conducive to growing a thriving business (and that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it ALL day long–I just can’t implement it as efficiently as I had been). It’s been a point of frustration for me, and probably my team though I haven’t asked them directly and they probably wouldn’t verbalize it even if it was true.

Of course, I realize that childhood is short and I want to take advantage of my time with my children, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. For me, this isn’t an issue of motherhood versus work. It’s also not a “women can do it all” speech. Every woman is different and every situation is different, but I do believe my personal and professional missions can continue just as strong, but just reframed.

How? I’ve worked for years to get Lars to a point where I can have others join me and now I have a great team who I’ve had to rely on more than ever. I feel very lucky to have them and know that they also believe in propelling the mission. They’re not attaching themselves to ME but our MISSION and those are very different things.

SO! Here I am, literally writing this essay while holding a pacifier in my infant’s mouth hoping that he stays asleep for another ten minutes so I can finish this up and pick up Jasper from the babysitter. My ambition isn’t what it used to be because I’m not what I used to be. And perhaps it’s even better that way. I continue to dream and work towards my dreams. They’re different and I’m just working at recognizing the beauty in it all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What motivates YOU? Is ambition a bad word? Tell me!

Thyroid Eye Disease: My Story

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)

Discovering TED

For those of you who are new to all of this (I definitely was when I involuntarily jumped into this boat), Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism. What?! Me, hyperthyroidism? You can imagine my surprise.

Something was off, I could feel it for sure, but with a new baby, running a business, and all the stresses of life, I couldn’t tell if I was just stressed out, burned out, or who knows what. Eventually I went to the doctor because I really wasn’t doing well. I hadn’t lost a single pound from birth, my hormones were heightened (that’s a tactful way of saying it my husband would say ;), and my blurry “light-headedness” was at an all-time high.

Brittany and FelixThe doctor helped me pinpoint that it wasn’t actually light-headedness, it was my vision. It was slow to focus and blurry. These were the symptoms directly after childbirth!

Thyroid Eye Disease

Luckily for me, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, I’ve partnered up with Horizon Therapeutics on its Listen to Your Eyes campaign to share information on the link between thyroid conditions, like Graves’ disease, and a separate but related disease called Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Did you know that up to 50% of people living with Graves’ disease are at risk for developing Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)? 

Thyroid Eye Disease

Since my diagnosis, I’ve opened my eyes (pun not intended) to the possibility of new diagnoses and how beneficial this information can be to others who may be struggling with similar issues but are lacking the resources they need to understand what they’re living with and how to cope.

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)

Knowledge brings hope

When I began this journey, I felt at a loss to understand what was happening to my body. Now I know so much and am still learning!

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) causes eye symptoms including bulging, double vision and debilitating pain. If not treated early, TED can cause serious damage to vision and appearance of the eyes. TED can even cause vision loss in more severe cases.

Brittany and Felix

I still have so much to learn but have a lot of hope for the future. If you or someone you love has Graves’ disease, pay attention to any eye symptoms. If you notice changes in your eyes, like bulging, light sensitivity and pain, don’t just assume those symptoms are part of Graves’ disease. Report them to a TED Specialist – such as an oculoplastic surgeon or neuro-ophthalmologist.

To find a nearby TED Specialist and other resources, visit www.FOCUSonTED.com.

This post is sponsored by Horizon Therapeutics. Thanks to our sponsors that allow us to create unique content for you!

Little Lars: New baby items in the shop!

cute gifts for baby

Gift ideas for baby and kids

There’s nothing better than stuff for kids, amiright?! Just enlarge them and make them for adults already! We have a little bit of this and that for baby and kids like pacifier clips, rattles, sunnies, toys. They’re too sweet!

Like these floral inspired pacifier clips. Come on!

flower beads pacifier clips

And, of course, we had to get some rainbows in some how. Rainbow teething toys!

Sweet accessories for kids

cute gifts for kids

Wooden cameras (for all inspiring photographers ;), knitted animal rattles, bunny burp clothes and more. I can’t wait to hear your favorites. Jump on over to the shop to see for yourself!

And if not accessories, we have our full range of art for kids like these art prints based on classic stories by Ayang Cempaka (my favorite is Pippi…no Little Red Riding Hood…I can’t decide!). art for kids based on books

You can find the new items in our Lars Shop here!

Documenting our trip to Denmark with Mixbook and giveaway!

Thank goodness for our The House That Lars Built x Mixbook Collection because it’s put the fire in me to get photo books made! I’m so bad at getting stuff printed–you too? All my photos live on my phone! And I literally think every day how much I’d love to see them in a tangible format. Honestly, and not just because we have a collection with them, but they do make it so easy to make and design. Their software is pretty dreamy. AND, their quality is lovely.

With our travel collection, I made a photo book based on our trip to Denmark. I ordered the premium matte lay flat book because it’s great for little hands–think board book. The moment I got it I sat down with Jasper and walked him through the pictures and he ATE IT UP. I mean, he’s predominantly featured in our book because a) he’s adorable and b) you don’t have a baby and not feature them predominantly in your photo books so he LOVED looking at himself. We flipped through every page together and he pointed to mostly himself, but a few “da das” and “mamas” in there. We recreated the moment fo you so you can see how angelically he paid attention (note: although I’m joking, he did actually pay really close attention. Ha! It’s a testament to having pictures of yourself in a book format!)

The House That Lars Built for Mixbook travel book

He couldn’t WAIT to take it out of my perfectly placed vignette! That rascal! Just kidding, I said there was candy on the books to get the shot.